Opium isn’t only addictive, but it’s very profitable. While the Taliban might not have the revenue to run their government, they may have figured out a fantastic revenue stream through Opium that could be between $1.8 billion and $2.7 billion depending on how many enslaved people they force to process the addictive substance.
Anticipate the drug trade amping up just a bit with more overdoses and lives ruined. It isn’t going to end well.
Afghanistan upped its production in 2021, and the United Nations recorded that they were the third-largest producer of Opium. Afghanistan’s opium production makes up 9-14 percent of its gross domestic product and is the largest export in terms of revenue.
With the Taliban seeking worldwide acceptance as a government, these considerations should be at the forefront of the conversation from world leaders. The risk is considerable even if the profit is just as large.
The Taliban said it would enforce a ban on the opium trade that they’re unlikely to follow through with.
The once secretive drug market is now operating in the open, and according to SIGAR’s most recent report, there “has been no evidence that the Taliban are enforcing or can enforce such a ban. On the contrary, the opium trade in Afghanistan appears to be flourishing.”
Why would they? It’s a win-win for the country. More revenue for the false government and resources to the people. The problem is that it will affect their population to a greater extent than it already has. The drug trade comes with violence, gangs, territories, and corruption, which will infiltrate the government and the country more than it already has.
Making matters worse, the federal government has resumed a million in aid to Afghanistan, which is unlikely to impact its citizens positively. The total amount of aid is $308 million, and the latest USAID report says that the US has “resumed some off-budget” support in the country.
Before that, the USAID reported that they had “suspended all contact with the Afghan government and terminated, suspended, or paused all on-budget assistance.”
Is anyone surprised by all of this? The writing was on the wall when Biden complied with everything the Taliban demanded when they pushed back on the withdrawal date and took over Kabul, Afghanistan. We knew that it was a bad thing and that regardless of the Taliban’s non-compliance, Biden would find a way to funnel money back into the country.
All the while, Afghans will face hunger and “near-famine conditions,” according to SIGAR. The opium production will likely cause cartel-level treatment of citizens involved and use the opium trade to feed their families.